J.C. Price legend James Bridges passes away
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2011
By Mike London
James Bridges passed away Monday in Greensboro at 76.
A Livingstone and J.C. Price Hall of Famer, Bridges was a fine football player who turned his athletic prowess into a college education and became a pioneering scholar.
He was a small boy, weighing 135 in high school, and his parents weren’t eager to see him get bones broke playing for the Price Red Devils.
He convinced his parents to let him play. After winning that argument, he had to convince coach Spencer “Prof” Lancaster that he could play for the dazzling Devils.
He succeeded and was a starting end on the 1952 Price team that went undefeated and won the 2A NCHSAC state championship.
Bridges mostly blocked and tackled. There wasn’t much pass-catching glory to be had on a team that rode the legs of William Hickman, Ernest “Mr. Touchdown” McCray and George Alexander the great majority of the time.
Bridges was a powerful man by the time he reached Livingstone. He played both ways for the Blue Bears at center and linebacker.
His toughness was legendary. Knocked unconscious making a snap in a game against Morristown, he was back on the field the next week.
One of Livingstone’s fiercest rivals was Norfolk State, and when the Blue Bears played them, Bridges had to battle against Roy Burney, who had been his teammate at Price. Both enjoyed those spirited confrontations.
A 1958 graduate of Livingstone, Bridges served in an army artillery unit in Germany, and his thirst for knowledge grew as a director in the army’s education center.
He was offered teaching jobs coming out of service. He went to New Jersey first, then returned to North Carolina.
A teaching and coaching job at Kannapolis’ Carver High brought him back very close to home, and he’s credited with starting Carver’s track program.
His next stop was teaching and coaching at Price, and he moved over to Salisbury’s Boyden High as a teacher and football coach after full integration brought Price’s close in 1969.
Bridges earned a masters in education from North Carolina A&T in 1971 and became assistant dean of adult education at Guilford Tech, a groundbreaking post for a black educator at the time.
Bridges was one of our Friday Football Legends in 2008 and was still intensely proud of his Salisbury roots.
“You never forget the people you played with and the people you taught,” he said. “When I go to Salisbury, I’m never there more than a minute before I hear someone holler, ‘Hey, Coach.’ ”